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Eat well, spend less

calendar27 October 2015

Kathy Freeman's avatar Kathy Freeman

Eat well, spend less

Trying to eat well on a budget can be tricky, but there are lots of ways it can be done. We’ve come up with some top tips to help make your grocery shopping a more cost effective experience:

Plan your meals – Avoid wasting food by planning your meals ahead of your weekly shop, and include meals that use common ingredients to reduce the need to buy lots of extras. There are plenty of recipes online that are budget friendly; and check out other items on our blog.

Stick to your list – Popping into the shop on your way home might seem like a good idea but try to avoid shopping on a whim as you’re likely to spend more on things you won’t use. Make a list, and then go shopping.

Don’t shop on an empty stomach – This is a must for impulse buyers: plan your shop when you know your purchasing won’t be dictated by hunger pangs!

Freeze it – Cheese, milk, fruit and vegetables; there’s so much food you probably weren’t aware you could freeze! Avoid unnecessary waste by freezing portions – like popping individual chicken breasts in freezer bags so you don’t have to defrost the whole pack. Or putting a loaf of sliced bread in the freezer and taking out slices when you need it.

Be supermarket savvy – There are plenty of deals to be had, but don’t get drawn in by the first one you come across. It pays to do your research – mysupermarket.co.uk is a great way to scan the shop prices from the comfort of your armchair.

Raid the reductions – check out the clearance aisle for anything that is close to its sell by date. Either use it that day or pop it in the freezer for another meal. Make sure you only buy something if you know you can use it, not just because it’s a bargain!

Timing is everything – Head to the supermarket later in the day, ideally about an hour before it closes, when all the items due to go out of date the following day will be heavily reduced. This is a great way to get hold of expensive fresh foods at a smidge of the cost – just freeze them for later.

Don’t be fooled - many supermarket deals aren’t always as good as they seem. Multi-buy deals might sound great, but double check the price of a single item as often the saving isn’t that much.

Check the small print - It’s also worth checking the price per unit as this will tell you how much you are really getting for your money. For example, a pack of margarine costing 89p might have seemed like the cheaper option compared to the one for £1.80 until you discovered the price per 100g is 36p as opposed to 17.8p.

Watch where you’re looking – Supermarkets put a lot of effort into designing their layout so you spend more money. For example, they’ll purposely place the most expensive products at your eye level and the essential items at the back to make you walk through all the other aisles and buy things you never intended – be wise to their tricks!

Going hungry because of debt? Call us today on 0800 328 0006 for free advice. We also run free money management courses to help you make your money go further, visit capmoneycourse.org to find a course near you.

The big fight against poverty from an army of small churches

calendar09 October 2015

Marianne Clough's avatar Marianne Clough

The big fight against poverty from an army of small churches

New figures have emerged showing that smaller churches can really pack a punch when it comes to social action.

Christians Against Poverty has discovered one in three of the churches it is working with have congregations of 50 to 100 members – not the mega churches people might assume are needed for such hard-hitting projects.

Chief Executive Matt Barlow said: 'We decided to do some research because people regularly say they feel they can’t make their mark on poverty because they belong to ‘just a small church’.'

'We found the truth is quite the reverse. We have partner churches that run job clubs; debt centres; they help the homeless; run a foodbank and more. Like David and Goliath, small really can be mighty when you are working with God.'

The research showed just one per cent of CAP’s partner churches had a membership of 500 or more while six in ten numbered 100 or less. A quarter had 21 to 50 people in the church with many smaller congregations working together with other churches in their community.

St Edyth’s Church in Bristol has between 40 and 50 adults.

Sian Hearsey, the CAP Debt Centre Manager there said: 'The area we live in and surrounding us has quite a lot of need. My role and the youth worker’s are paid for by applying to trusts as the church does not have much income.'

Birmingham Central Baptist Church has around 70 members but that doesn’t stop them from providing a CAP Debt Centre and CAP Money Courses for the community.

They run a job club; support groups; foodbank; elderly care; night shelter and after-school club.

Shoreline Church, Southport with a congregation of 70 to 75 people is able to provide housing for 500 people through charity Green Pastures; 200 a week are being fed through their own independent foodbank and they are aiming to open a CAP Job Club to help unemployed people – all this and a CAP Debt Centre.

Sue Silcock is a member of Tamworth Baptist Church, which has 96 members. She also runs the CAP Debt Centre there.

'We have had a CAP Debt Centre for 15 years and the work has been a blessing in so many ways.'

Find out about a partnership with CAP.

Read more about the power of the smaller church.

Driving down energy bills

calendar30 September 2015

Kathy Freeman's avatar Kathy Freeman

Driving down energy bills

With the nights drawing in, we’re reminded that winter is just around the corner. So as you brace yourself for the cold weather, make sure it’s not your energy bills giving you the chills. Check out our top tips for saving money on fuel this winter.

1. Turn it off – Whilst it’s easier to leave appliances on standby, switching them off at the socket can save you around £70 a year. Lights account for around 20 per cent of your electricity bill so remember to turn them off and use energy saving light bulbs – they also last ten times longer than ordinary bulbs.

2. Turn it down - Lowering your room temperature by just one degree can cut your bills by up to ten per cent, saving you around £65 per year. Adjust your heating to the lowest comfortable setting between 18°C and 21°C, and also check your water cylinder thermostat isn’t too high – aim for 60°C. Also, as 90 per cent of a washing machine’s energy is spent on heating the water, washing clothes at 30°C will dramatically really reduce your bills.

3. Insulate – Draught proofing windows, doors, skirting boards etc. could save you up to £30 a year. Why not try making a draught excluder by sewing up the leg of an old pair of trousers stuffed with rice or lentils. Heat reflective panels behind radiators are an effective way to prevent precious heat escaping - pick up a roll of radiator reflective foil for less than ten pounds from your local DIY shop. And if you can’t afford double-glazing, there’s a special film you buy for your windows, attach with double-sided tape and fix with a hairdryer!

4. Switch – Some people save up to £200 a year switching supplier, so it’s worth checking you are on the cheapest tariff. Compare gas and electricity prices online at www.uswitch.com. Avoid pre-payment meters if possible as they are more expensive, and pay by Direct Debit as this is up to six per cent cheaper than paying with other methods. Remember to provide suppliers with regular meter readings to prevent paying high estimates.

5. Bleed your radiators – If the top of the radiator feels cooler than the bottom, then you’ll need to get rid of the trapped air. If you don’t know how, check out www.wikihow.com/Bleed-a-Radiator

6. Energy-saving grants – There is plenty of help available from the Government, energy suppliers and local authorities for implementing energy saving measures. Visit the Government’s Energy Saving Trust (EST) for information on what grants are available and for more free advice about saving energy in your home www.energysavingtrust.org.uk

If you’re struggling to pay your bills today and are worried about debt, don’t panic contact CAP for free advice on 0800 328 0006 or click here. We also run free money management courses to help you budget those bills and save for the future, click here to find a course near you.

100 Days To Christmas

calendar16 September 2015

Anna Munroe's avatar Anna Munroe

100 Days To Christmas

Each year, September 16 marks the start of a very special countdown. The summer months fade into a distant memory and as the air gets colder and the evenings get darker, the reality is it’s only 100 days until Christmas.

The cash conscious adult masks the excited child in us, and the “to buy” list seems to grow as the days tick by… But don’t panic, we’ve got you covered. Christmas may drain your energy but it doesn’t have to drain your bank account.

We have put together some top tips to make January a little more manageable, whilst still achieving the magic of Christmas.

1. D.I.Y – Everyone knows the Christmas bill would be much smaller if everything were handmade. However, in reality – we aren’t all Christmas elves and our everyday jobs aren’t put on hold just for the festive period. We suggest batch making presents, and then personalising them slightly for friends and relatives. Some popular ideas are festive chutneys and biscuits - this way the gift will be truly appreciated and a quarter of the price!

2. Christmas cupboard – Allocate a storage space in your home and collect festive treats and goodies. Grabbing one or two items from each weekly shop leading up to December will dramatically reduce the size of your last-minute Christmas Eve shopping list.

3. Don’t rely on the December income – Work out in advance what you can afford to put aside in September, October and November, then add this to your December fund and your Christmas budget will stretch much further. Don’t forget you’ll still have bills to pay in January.

4. Book in advance – If you’re planning on travelling for Christmas, whether it’s coming home from University or a getaway to visit relatives, booking ahead is the key to the getting the best price. Train tickets, flights and accommodation will rocket in costs around the festive period, so do your research now and steal the deals.

5. Don’t buy things that don’t get eaten – Resist the temptation as you stroll the supermarket aisles to pick up everything that is mildly related to Christmas. Things like Christmas cake may be traditional but they aren’t everyone’s favorite. If they’re likely to end up in the bin, don’t waste your money!

6. Don’t procrastinate! – It’s tempting to ignore the fact that Christmas exists until it’s staring you in the face, get ahead of the game now and start your prep early. Team up with family members and plan in advance, you could group your funds together to buy a big present for a member of the family that you wouldn’t be able to buy alone.

Debt became a tidal wave Stuart couldn’t hold back

calendar14 September 2015

John Kirkby's avatar John Kirkby

500 job applications in a year, only six replies and no interviews. Stuart tried everything but debt became a tidal wave he couldn't hold back.

Praise God that debt was not Stuart's final destination. Watch his story and see how different his life is for now and eternity.

Since making this film Stuart went to his local CAP Job Club and has now got at job at Morrisons!

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